Misrepresentation in an immigration case occurs when an individual provides false or misleading information, omits important details, or submits fraudulent documents during the application process. This can range from inaccuracies in personal details to intentional deception about one’s background, work history, or criminal record.
Misrepresentation is taken seriously by the United States Government, so consequences are severe and can include visa denials, deportation, or even permanent inadmissibility to return to the U.S. With so much at stake, immigrants accused of misrepresentation should not try to fight charges alone. If you or a loved one has been charged with misrepresentation, an immigration attorney can help navigate the system to challenge these charges, avoid costly mistakes that lead to denials, and fight for your rights to remain in the United States and obtain immigration benefits.
What is Willful Misrepresentation — Understanding Charges
According to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), applicants may be found inadmissible if they obtain a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) through willful misrepresentation or fraud. To be found inadmissible based on willful misrepresentation, the officer investigating the case must find the existence of all of the following elements:
- You obtained or tried to obtain a benefit under U.S. immigration laws;
- You made a false representation;
- The false representation was willfully made, not made accidently;
- The false representation was material, which means it would tend to affect the decision regarding the immigration benefit sought; and
- The false representation was made to a U.S. government official, generally an immigration or consular officer.
Willful immigration is not just making innocent mistakes or unintentional errors on immigration documents. There has to be a deliberate intent to deceive immigration authorities and provide false information in an attempt to get immigration benefits or to avoid adverse consequences.
There are many forms willful misrepresentation can take. These include:
- making false statements on visa applications, such as by providing false information about one’s educational or employment history
- submitting fraudulent documentation, such as certificates, diplomas, or letters of recommendation
- misrepresenting one’s identity or qualifications, such as degrees, certifications or job experience
- concealing material facts that are relevant to the immigration process, such as the existence of a criminal record or providing false information about past convictions
- misrepresenting familial relationships or marital status.
In addition to charges of misrepresentation, applicants can be found inadmissible based on fraud. This involves all of the above elements, along with two additional elements:
- The false representation was made with the intent to deceive a U.S. government official who was authorized to act upon the request, and
- The U.S. government official believed and acted upon the false representation by granting the benefit.
What are Consequences of Being Found Guity of Misrepresentation?
The consequences of willful misrepresentation can be severe. Individuals found guilty of willful misrepresentation may face legal and immigration consequences that impact their ability to enter or remain in a country. Depending on the severity and intent of your misrepresentation, consequences may include:
- Denial of a visa: Misrepresentation can lead to the immediate denial of a visa application, which would negatively impact your chances of entering or remaining in the country.
- Deportation: If misrepresentation is discovered after you have already entered the United States, you may be deported.
- Permanent inadmissibility: In some cases, misrepresentation can result in your being permanently barred from entering the U.S.
What Are Defenses Against Misrepresentation?
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual, “willfully” is an action that is made knowingly, and it cannot be willful if it was made inadvertently or accidently. The government must establish that the immigrant had knowledge of the falsity of the misrepresentation. Moreover, the government must show that the misrepresentation was made intentionally and with the intention of providing false material information.
Immigration attorneys who understand the legal requirements can navigate the complex procedures required to fight misrepresentation charges. Here are some ways they can help defend you:
- Review all documentation submitted during the immigration process to identify any potential discrepancies or inaccuracies and correct mistakes before they become a significant problem.
- Communicate with immigration authorities to clarify misunderstandings, provide additional information, provide proof that the misrepresentation was not willful, and present a compelling case to mitigate the impact of misrepresentation.
- File appeals and waivers in cases where misrepresentation has occurred to present a strong case for why the misrepresentation was unintentional or should be forgiven due to extenuating circumstances. Depending on your circumstances:
- Your attorney may be able to file an I-601 waiver with the USCIS to seek a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility. This may be done in cases where you are inadmissible to the United States and are seeking an immigrant visa, adjustment of status, certain nonimmigrant statuses, or certain other immigration benefits, to seek a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility.
- Your attorney may be able file a 212(I) waiver to reapply for admission if you have been excluded, removed or deported from the United States. The purpose of the I-212 request is to allow you to be re-admitted to the United States before your period of inadmissibility (bar) has passed. This waiver is applicable if you can prove that a lawful permanent resident or spouse would face extreme hardship due to the exclusion. The determining factors for extreme hardship include education, personal considerations, the significant health conditions a relative, financial considerations, and particular considerations that can result from family separation. Classes of applicants eligible for this waiver include an applicant seeking adjustment of status or immigrant visa based on a family-based petition, a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioner seeking a green card or adjustment of status, or an applicant seeking a non-immigrant visa or an employment-based immigrant visa to adjust status.
Get Help from an Immigration Attorney to Fight Misrepresentation Charges
Facing misrepresentation charges in an immigration case can be an overwhelming and frightening experience, and it is difficult to fight these charges on your own. The skilled and immigration attorneys at Carman Fullerton in Lexington, Kentucky, have helped many immigrants to the United States fight these charges and are fully prepared to do the same for you. Through our knowledge of the courts and the system, meticulous review of the issues, effective communication with immigration authorities, and strategic planning, we strive to rectify misrepresentation issues and achieve a fair and just resolution to your immigration case.
Your future is too important to risk, so do not delay. Call us today for an initial consultation at 859-971-0060 today to see how we can help.
Get Help Now Call 859-971-0060
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]